Some good points from Ed Morrissey at Hot Air regarding the AIG bonuses:
The nasty little secret at the center of all the outrage is that the Obama administration could have stopped the bonuses by simply stopping the bailout. They could have forced AIG into bankruptcy, which would have voided the company’s contractual compensation obligations. Instead, the Obama administration chose to inject liquidity into AIG, following the lead of the Bush administration, which had done the same thing. That kept AIG’s doors open, and therefore kept its contractual obligations to its employees intact.
Now Obama is outrageously outraged, as Allahpundit put it yesterday, but over what? A company complying with its contractual obligations? AIG has no more right to abrogate those contracts than any other employer would with its union contracts. Whether or not the compensation agreements reflect wisdom and managerial brilliance, they exist — and as a matter of law, AIG has to honor the commitments. Screeching about the bonuses now is not just futile, but a demonstration of the arrogance involved in these bailouts. If the government wants to tear up all the contracts, it will have to nationalize AIG and get Congress to approve it.
In the future, we can avoid having taxpayer dollars go to Wall Street bonuses by not bailing out private companies with taxpayer dollars.
Update: Not to be reported by ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN – the AIG bonuses were protected in the stimulus bill.
From David Freddoso at National Review:
But why is Obama so outraged and surprised? Today we learn that he signed the very bill that quite clearly made those bonuses legal — the $787 billion stimulus package he had traveled around the nation promoting. The bill includes restrictions on executive compensation, but creates an exception for bonuses contractually obligated before February 11 of this year. The provision, and the exception, were inserted into the bill by the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd (D, Conn.), who has received more than $100,000 from AIG employees in the last 20 years, had written and inserted the relevant provision, with the relevant loophole. How can he, the president, or anyone else who voted for the stimulus, suddenly act surprised? Don’t tell us they didn’t read the bill.
House Republicans are already calling for a return of the money, and holding a press conference. Here is the statement from House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R, Va.) from this afternoon.
“Today, news reports reveal that a last minute provision in the stimulus bill inserted by Democrats protected bonuses like those received by AIG executives. Taxpayers deserve better than this from their government, and this is just the latest reason why legislation must be transparent for all Americans to see before it is recklessly signed into law.”
UPDATE: Here is the loophole, from the section of the stimulus package that deals with compensation rules for TARP recipients:
“The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.”
Frankly, it’s hard to imagine how the government could prevent such contracts from being honored. But the presence of this loophole, in black and white, certainly gives the lie to all of this phony outrage — by the senator who created the loophole, by the president who signed it into law, and by everyone else who voted for the stimulus package.